David Bowie's wife, 59, reveals she was in her late teens when she decided to turn her back on her studies at the University of Nairobi and flee to New York, and she had to lie to obtain a passport.

The Somalian-born beauty tells New York magazine, "I was under 18, and to leave Kenya to come to the United States, to get a passport, you had to be 18.

"So I lied and said I was 19 to get the passport, because (otherwise) I had to have permission from my parents, and my parents would never have let me come."

Her dad only realised what had happened when he settled in to read Newsweek magazine days later.

She continues, "You know how they found out? I was in Newsweek a week later. It's the only magazine my father reads, and the next thing, he's reading, and there's a picture of me in New York, (saying), 'She's the hottest model now.'"

Iman went on to walk for top fashion houses including Versace, Calvin Klein and Donna Karan and become a style icon, and she has no regrets about her risky move.

She says, "I broke the law! But nobody can touch me now, I'm 60 years old (sic), it's too late. The time has passed."